Just Pop a Pill; You’ll Be Better in the Morning

by Catherine Haug, June 3 ,2011; updated Sept 4, 2011

We are a drug-addicted nation. I’m not just talking about illegal drugs. I’m talking about prescription drugs, over the counter (OTC) drugs, and supplements. Somewhere along the way, we stopped being a nation of people who rarely take an aspirin, to one that consumes at least $330 Billion in legal drugs annually.

What are the health consequences of this choice?

Symptoms of negative drug interactions

Just taking one medication that is not right for you, could have severe consequences, not the least of which is headache, skin rashes and excessive itching, signs that your liver is overworked from trying to detox the drug. Taking two or more medications (polypharmacy) at the same time greatly increases the risk of negative interactions, with increased potential for even more devastating consequences. See The Hidden Dangers of Taking More Than One Medication at Once

According to Mercola, these are the most common symptoms of a negative interaction between two or more drugs:

  • Skin rashes, excessive itching
  • Tiredness, sleepiness or decreased alertness
  • Constipation, diarrhea or incontinence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion (chronic or intermittent)
  • Dizziness and/or falls
  • Depression or lack of interest in your usual activities
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things
  • Anxiety or excitability
  • Decreased or altered sexual behavior

The Culture of Media

Certainly part of the problem is the media. As soon as a scientific study is published, the media make a loose interpretation/summary of the results, or quote out of context, to grab the headlines. Another problem lies in the use of ‘risk factors’ which get equated to ’cause,’ when in fact there may be no connection between the two.

I’m sure you’re as frustrated as I am when the media reports that something (like coffee, chocolate, wine) is bad for you, and then a few months later they report the same item is good for you (or vice versa). What is one to believe? Do the scientists just not know what they are doing? Or is their research being misrepresented in the media?

I think the root problem lies in our culture. As a scientist myself, I will be quick to defend the scientific method, but I recognize that not all ‘science’ follows the scientific method. Much of what is called science today is fueled by our cultural fear of death from disease and our mythology of the wealth of riches. We want to live forever, and we want to die rich. We allow large drug and supplement companies to play upon our fear of death by taking short cuts in the study of what constitutes health and what can ‘cure’ disease, and thus support their pursuit of riches, at our expense.

And we learn about all this, right or wrong, from the media, which typically quote out of context and report on half-truths to lure readers. See Mercola’s article: Why the Media is Usually Wrong about Health Information.

East vs West

Years ago I was inspired by a poem that compared the Western view of how life works, with that of Eastern cultures. I can no longer find that poem, but the gist is that in studying a blooming flower to understand the meaning of life:

  • A Westerner plucks the flower from the soil and takes it apart piece by piece, analyzing each part in attempt to understand the whole.
  • An Easterner, observing the flower without plucking it, takes in its essence as a whole, to understand the combined workings of the parts.

Time and again, we westerners, we scientists, miss something vital when we inspect the parts without considering what is lost when they are separated from the whole.

And so it is with our ‘scientific’ study of drugs, disease and symptoms. for example, we pluck a cell from its environment, expose it to the drug, then observe what happens, without regard to what is lost when that cell no longer has its community of cells to help it cope. We observe that certain ‘good’ things happen, and certain ‘bad things happen. If the good outweighs the bad, the drug is considered to be safe.

Or we isolate a chemical from some living thing and study what it does, without including its natural environment in the study. This, in particular, is what leads to foods like wine being bad for you because it contains a ‘bad’ chemical (alcohol), and coincidentally good for you because it contains a ‘good’ chemical (resveratol). See Is Red Wine Really Good for Your Health? and Why Red Wine May Help Your Heart from Mercola’s website.

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